Winchester - 2018
Director(s): Michael Spierig and Peter Spierig
Writer(s): Tom Vaughan, Michael Spierig and Peter Spierig (screenplay)
Cinematography by: Ben Nott
Editor(s): Matt Villa
Cast: Helen Mirren, Jason Clarke, Bruce Spence, Eamon Farren and Laura Brent
Synopsis: Eccentric firearm heiress believes she is haunted by the souls of people killed by the Winchester repeating rifle.
This movie had a lot going for it prior to me watching it. It has a rich and complicated history to pull from - in Sarah Winchester and her house. It’s currently listed as a historical landmark in California and is considered to be one of the most haunted places in America. Winchester was a widow-turnedsole-heir to a multimillion dollar company and she decided to invest her money in this ever-evolving house. This house was always in constant construction and has many doorways, hallways and stairs that lead to nowhere with the purpose of warding off evil spirits. There are endless ways to mine this story for the horror genre or the suspense thriller genre. Now add the talents of Helen-freaking-Mirren (the Queen!) and Jason Clarke. You had my attention and five minutes in you completely lost it. Let’s talk about it?
I’m a very forgiving movie lover. I always try to find something inside movies that I will say, “Well at least they did this right”. But one thing I can’t forgive in a movie is them being boring. If you say your movie is a horror movie and it doesn’t scare me but entertains me I’ll let it slide. If you say it’s a scary movie and I laugh more than I jump, I’ll also let it slide. But, if I find myself looking at my watch 30min into your 1h 39min movie because it feels like 4hrs have passed, I feel you have wronged me. How did you waste this untapped source of material? How did you get Helen Mirren to do this movie? What are you holding over her head?
Helen if you are reading this, and let’s be frank I KNOW you are, go to the police and report the blackmail. Don’t give in, they always come back for more.
I miss The Spierig Brothers that made Predestination and Daybreakers. Since then they have made last year’s Jigsaw and now this. I’m not saying that I’m completely giving up on them as talents, but it feels like they have.
The cinematography in this movie made my eyes sore. It looked cheap and uninterested, like they didn’t even care what this movie looked like. As if people weren’t going to see this on a 20 to 50 wide movie screen. I have seen TV pilots, especially now in this golden age of TV, that looked better than this movie. But the biggest crime this movie commits with the visuals is the house. Your house should be a huge character in your movie. It must look bewildering and awe inspiring just to live up to the hype around this never-built mansion. The outside of the house was mainly CGI and it looked like something pulled-out of a PlayStation 2 video game. They also reused a lot of the same rooms and shots. If they didn’t hype this mansion up so much I would’ve thought this movie took place in a two story, four bedrooms, two bath house.
Helen Mirren as Sarah Winchester gives her all to try to elevate this material. She is a class act and a professional. But the script just fails her left and right, giving her uninteresting motives and generic lines to read to a confused and lost Jason Clarke. His acting was the most real aspect of this movie. He looks like he can’t believe he finally got to work with Mirren and it happens to be one of the worst movies on his resume. He just doesn’t understand how their careers intersected on this movie.
Winchester is a horror movie that would’ve been better served as a documentary on Netflix. It was boring and uneventful, full of fake jump scares and jump scares and some jump scares that produce zero scares. My heart aches for Helen Mirren and I truly wish The Spierig Brothers come back to form. Helen Mirren is why I love movies.
Winchester is currently playing in theaters. Completely skip this movie, go watch paint dry.
If you like this review let me know in the comment section down below. Also, follow me over at Twitter (@yILovemovies) or over on Facebook, so you can be up to date with all my reviews.